Like any old thing, home can get boring. But it can be expensive to herd the F.U. into the minivan and head to a traditional and well-publicized commercial establishment! Here are some of the more pricey things we’ve done that we feel didn’t give us a great family experience. We're going to tell the truth here, and that won't make a lot people happy. But your family unit deserves the truth. So let's continue! 

  • Disney World is a terrible place to connect with your family. Any amusement park, really. It’s too big, and families typically split up to do their own thing. And it’s really hot in Florida’s summer. It’s always crowded and noisy. And it’s incredibly expensive. I’ve never left Disney without dropping at least a thousand dollars in a single day. Paying a grand and not getting any closer with anyone in your fam isn’t a great investment in my humble opinion. 

  • Movies are fun, but what can’t you do? Talk! You’re there to watch a movie featuring someone else’s story. Plus, seats are organized in rows, so someone’s bound to be too far from someone to communicate effectively even if you could talk.

  • Any party thrown by or attended by any F.U. member’s bestie. You’ll lose the offending family member’s attention long before you get there, and your unity won’t be united.

  • Any party you throw at your own home. Ironically, you’ll always be too busy to enjoy your family and your company. I realized this during the last party I threw. Everyone else enjoyed themselves while I was relegated to host, DJ, chef, waiter, bartender, and clean-up person. There was absolutely zero joy on my part at that party. I haven’t thrown a party since.

  • Cruises. Yes, you’re away from home and friends and your everyday thing. Yes, the portable electronic devices are slightly less useful (unless you foolishly purchase the unlimited internet package). But as great as it is in offering so many fun activities for all ages, and this is across all cruise lines, those activities invite familial separation, and that wasn’t the intent of that family vacation, was it? During our last family cruise several years back, we had to argue with our teens and tweens to get them to meet us for dinner. Otherwise, they’d hightail out before breakfast to meet their new friends, and we wouldn’t see them until they stumbled over us usually well after the ship-imposed curfew. What was worse was we traveled with a few other families of our children’s friends. Major distractions. Fun fact: that cruise was our last family cruise, and ultimately the catalyst to creating the F.U. We still love cruising, and we intend to revisit this as a F.U. in a few more years. 

  • Camping. See cruises. You know I’m right.   


Remember, F.U. time is meant to celebrate life and the gift of family. Try as best you can to leave your nitpicking, nagging, and anger behind, even if your offspring deserve it. It becomes extremely awkward when you’re miles from home and things get sour between you and your kids. Don’t ruin the mood; use the opportunity to patch things up. Vacation time could be the catalyst that makes things better.

  • Thrift Store Fashion Show. It’s a great way to support a local charity! Give your kids a small allowance in an unmarked envelope. To make things more interesting, vary the dollar amounts slightly and have the family choose the envelopes randomly. You participate too, Mom and/or Dad! The goal is to use your budget, and no more, to create the awesomest fashion with things you’ll find at the thrift store. We’ve started to do themes – our last one was an 80s theme night. My $10 white Miami Vice sport coat still reeks of mothballs. Have everyone bag their purchases, wash them at home, and set up a time for your Thrift Shop fashion show! No one really wins, but it provides needed funds for a non-profit, a lot of laughs, and some awesome Instagram posts. There’s a new movement called “trashion,” where people are creating new clothing designs from used clothing, so your fam will think that’s cool. I typically re-donate most of the clothes when we’re done. I consider it renting. Please don’t return them and ask for your money back. That’s not cool.    

  • Back To School Fashion Show. We set a timer and sent our kids into a mall to choose one outfit that fell within a certain budget. The last time we did this, we let our kids bring a friend, and we bought an outfit for the friend too. That proved to be the most effective validation for this silly event. The panic of shopping for something cool in five minutes is stressful but so much fun. We ended at a family dinner with the friends and talked about our experiences.   

  • Make a Movie! This is something new we’re fleshing out as we write this book. The gist is to have the family collectively write a fictional script creating characters for everyone to play, film it on a smartphone, edit it, and screen it to whomever will watch. This sounds a little crazy, but we’ve proved it is totally doable. We scripted, filmed, edited and released four zero-budget movies last year using our friends and our smartphones. A few are mildly impressive! The kids seem to be into the filming thing, but the writing seems to be the hang-up. I don’t want to do it all myself, but I may have to for the first one. But, if and when we succeed, what a keepsake!

  • Bike Trips, Walking Trips, Ghost Tours, Trail Hikes. They’re all outdoorsy, non-electronic, active, semi-isolated, and memorable. Key West, Savannah, St. Augustine, and any old city will offer these nightly. 


Photo by Deva Darshan from Pexels